Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The MeNZB vaccine redux

The strange case of the MeNZB vaccine has been reopened by a new Norwegian documentary. Back in 1988, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health started testing a new vaccine against meningococcus b. Meningococcal disease is, well, nasty. It is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, and the disease usually affects the membranes around the brain and spinal cord or the bloodstream, causing meningitis or septicemia, and can result in brain damage, blindness, deafness, limb amputations and death. Meningococcus b mainly affects children. For some 13 years, a strain of meningococcus b was responsible for epidemic of meningcoccal disease in Norway. As a response, the largest clinical trial in Norwegian history was designed and implemented, involving 170,000 people and over 2000 doctors and nurses.

The vaccine trial was not a glowing success. As reported in the Lancet in 1991, the vaccine did not provide a high enough degree of effectiveness (57%) and it was never licensed for use in mass vaccination in Norway, where the epidemic had in any case started to subside. In addition, there were scientific and ethical questions raised throughout the trial. The vaccine had a relatively high number of side effects, and it was unclear to some that the risks of these side-effects had been properly communicated to the parents of the children. Compensation was offered to some of the children seriously injured in the study.

This is where the New Zealand part of the story comes in. A few years ago, the World Health Organization requested that a vaccine similar to the Norwegian one be exported to New Zealand, which was suffering its own meningococcus b epidemic. Using the same technology and the same methodology from 1980s, researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health tailored a new vaccine for New Zealand. The multinational pharmaceutical company Chiron was awarded rights to mass produce the vaccine. Part of the controversy is that what is now called the MeNZB vaccine was never subjected to a Phase III trial. According to critics, this means that a vaccine whose safety and efficacy has not been sufficiently proven is being used on hundreds of thousands of New Zealand children. According to defenders, the safety and efficacy had been well-enough proven without the need for Phase III trials, and doing so would have been unethical itself in the face of a public health emergency.

A new Norwegian documentary entitled The Vaccine Experiment -- In the Service of the Good that aired recently on New Zealand television draws doubt on the science and ethics of the Norwegian trial, and by extension, the use of the vaccine in New Zealand. The New Zealand Ministry of Health has responded vigorously, labelling participants in the documentary 'anti-immunization zealots' and issuing a press release in unyielding defence of their vaccination program. One of the alleged zealots (Professor Jan Helge Solbakk) has recently been named head of bioethics at UNESCO.


Blogger visitor said...

The same manufacturer (Novartis) is starting a study in Finland where a MF59 -adjuvanted influenza vaccine will be tested on infants and children aged 6 months to 36 months.

Remember the Persian Gulf syndrome talk about the antrax vaccine and squaelene and the autoimmune diseases which it causes according to some researchers? MF59 contains squalene. MF59 is not approved in USA. It appears it's only approved in Europe for influenza vaccine for people over 65 years. Now a squalene-containing vaccine will be tested in children aged 6 to 36 months.

As with the infant formula study, also this time what's going on is cooperation of the private sector and the public sector. The study will be done by University of Tampere, apparently funded by the vaccine manufacturer. At least in the first recruting letter, funding by Novartis is not disclosed. As for possible adverse effects, only reddening, swelling or pain in the site of injection plus fever, irritability or stomach trouble are mentioned.

10:59 AM  
Blogger marshall said...

Hello i never thought that the meNZb will be so bad it lead to the meningitis and meningitis it terrible can affect youre brain can affect youre blood and so many other bad complications you can get blind and deaf and also lead to death that is so bad so we need to make more vaccines so we can give it to the population and also im worry for the overweight in the country so i recoomend medifast diet plan with this plan you can loss some weight fast thank you .

10:20 PM  
Blogger capricorn said...

As far as I am concerned, the so-called New Zealand Ministry of Health is an organised criminal enterprise pretending to promote public health, while vaccination is an organised criminal enterprise dressed up as disease prevention.

During the polio epidemic in the 1950s and early 1960s, the New Zealand so-called Ministry of Health bought a batch of polio vaccine from Canada it knew was cheap because it was so badly contaminated with the carcinogenic monkey virus SV-40 that it had been banned from being used in America. The MoH then told parents on the consent forms that the vaccine was well tested and harmless (!). The NZ MoH lies day in and day out.

That so many parents still comply with the MoH's vaccine child poisoning schedule is a monument to the efficacy of the MoH (and IMAC) brain-washing techniques and parents' gullibility, if not outright stupidity.

10:52 PM  

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